An Educational Collision Course: Do Politics and Identity Collide In Higher Education?

An Educational Collision Course: Do Politics and Identity Collide In Higher Education?


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Presenter Bio

Dr. Eric D. Hess (he/him) is a gender and sexuality researcher, specializing in gender expression, sexual identity, and religion. Prior to coming to Berklee, Eric served as a professor and chaired a small team at a rural college in Maryland, largely teaching courses in gender and sexuality. Having great interest and scholarship in queer issues and educational politics, Eric has served on various committees to assess for bias with regard to curriculum and policy. His dissertation is a qualitative, interview-based analysis of queer men navigating masculinity and policy in fundamentalist Christian colleges.

Presentation Description

Education has been at the forefront of many political arguments in the recent years. This is not new to American politics; the term indoctrination has been used rather liberally by those with a myriad of political beliefs. Of greater concern, politics has been used to police identity within educational systems, and politicians rarely have expertise in educational policies, politics, or student/educator identity. I will challenge attendees to consider past, present, and global perspectives and determine our own role as educators and the role of our institution in this important discussion.

Post-Session Exercise

We recognize there are many times in which a student's only "safe place" may be their education institution. At an address at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Martin Luther King expressed the following sentiment: "We must remember that intelligence (Eric speaking here... or I might suggest 'competency') is not enough. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate."

Shapiro (2009) suggests, education should "serve society as both a responsive servant and a thoughtful critic.” Educators and institutions must be responsive to the needs of society. Reflect on the following prompt: How are we as educators ensuring we are responsive to society in our curriculum, policies, and instruction? Can/should education be mutually exclusive with politics? Is Berklee responsive? I believe education that ignores the needs of society is irrelevant. Reflect inwardly... what can you do on an individual level to be responsive of society? My door (or virtual door) is always open to help:


student identity; educator identity; educational systems

Publication Date



Berklee Online

An Educational Collision Course: Do Politics and Identity Collide In Higher Education?